Late Fr Pádraig was a racing fan not shy of technology, who made difference in Nigeria
FR Pádraig Flanagan of the 1963 St Patrick’s Missionary Class was laid to rest in the Society Cemetery in Kiltegan on Monday having passed away peacefully in the St Patrick’s Care Unit.
John Pádraig Flanagan, popularly known as Pádraig, was born on May 31, 1938 in Ardsoran Co Sligo to James and Katherine (née Rock) Flanagan.
He was the fifth child of a family of two girls and six boys. Pádraig attended Killalaght National School from 1942 to 1951 and did his secondary education in St Nathy’s, Ballaghadereen from 1951 to 1955.
In September 1955 Pádraig joined the Spiritual Year in Kiltegan. From 1956 to 1959 he studied for his BA degree in University College Cork and then proceeded to Kiltegan for theology from 1959 until 1963. Pádraig was among sixteen priests ordained for the Society on April 14, 1963.
After ordination Pádraig was appointed to Ikot Ekpene diocese, Nigeria. During the Biafran war Pádraig became relief co-ordinator for the diocese where he set up three centres to provide food and shelter for those who were displaced during the war. One of his most notable contributions was the building of St Joseph’s Major Seminary in Ikot Ekpene which catered for the training of students for the whole of South Eastern Nigeria. In 1978 ill health forced him to return to Ireland.
From 1978 to ‘80, he worked with the Irish Missionary Union for two years, during which he helped to organise the Missionary Congress in Knock. For the next five years (1980-‘85) Pádraig taught and acted as chaplain in CBC Monkstown.
From 1994 to 2003 Pádraig worked in the diocese of Nottingham, England, before taking up an appointment in Cliffony parish, Elphin Diocese in 2005.
Pádraig was blessed with a practical brain which manifested itself both as a student and later during his co-ordination of different projects.
His classmate Sean O’Dowd recalls the time when a printing press was left into the new college in Kiltegan.
“Some of us wondered what it was or how it worked! However, Pádraig Flanagan went a bit further and found that it was in perfect working order.
“He started work on the ordination cards for the 1963 class which were to be shared with students, staff and colleagues.”
From the moment he arrived in Nigeria he was able to see the needs of his people and initiated many practical programmes to improve their lives.
He was able to draw on his experience of working on the ground in Nigeria, when he went on to study for a MBA in Trinity College, Dublin in 1973-‘74. He worked in other relief projects in Tanzania from 1985-‘87 and in Jordan in 1990-‘91.
Pádraig’s main sporting interest was horseracing.
His biggest thrill in recent years was when Rachael Blackmore personally wrote to him after she became the leading jockey in Cheltenham in 2021. This led to Pádraig backing her horse for the Aintree Grand National that year, which he was duly rewarded for.
Pádraig is predeceased by his parents James and Kate, by his brothers, Bernard, William and Seamus, and by his sister Rita. He is survived by his brothers, Fr Michael (USA), Francis, and his sister Jane Patricia, his nephews and nieces and their families, and his Society family.